Manama: The Bahraini owner of the building where a blaze on Friday killed 13 labourers and injured seven more has been arrested.
His elder brother, reportedly responsible for the downtown building and believed to be out of the country, will also be summoned for police questioning.
According to officials, 135 labourers, mostly from Bangladesh, lived in the 27 rooms of the three-storey building where no maintenance work has been carried out for 35 years.
Bangladeshi embassy officials said that 11 of the victims had been identified and that six of them were staying legally in the country.
The names of the other two victims are still unknown and the authorities are continuing the task of identifying the burned bodies.
Officials, diplomats and non-government organisations (NGOs) have been deploying special efforts to secure shelter, clothes and food for the dozens of survivors left homeless after the flames gutted the building where they stayed.
Several MPs and columnists have called for stringent action against those responsible for the tragedy, through negligence or greed.
The cabinet said that laws would be toughened to ensure better compliance with rules and safety standards and similar tragedies are averted.
In Bangladesh, the Daily Star reported that Jamal, one of the victims who had worked as a mason in Bahrain since 1989, was “scheduled to return for good to Mariarpara village of Chittagong at the end of this month.”
“The youngest of his four children, Liza, a student of class two, said she was eagerly waiting to see him for the first time,” the daily said.
The father reportedly talked to his family members over the phone early on Friday, hours before the tragedy.
Another victim, Nazir Ahmad, a construction site helper who lived in Bahrain for the last six years, also called his family in Boalkhali, Chittagong a few hours before the tragedy, “assuring his wife Shirin Akhter, 30, of sending some money.”
Mahbub Alam, another blaze victim, called his bedridden octogenarian mother Saleha Khatun in their East Bathua residence in Chittagong to assure her that he was “coming home next week,” the Daily Star reported.
Slightly more than half of the population of 1.2 million in Bahrain are foreigners, mainly unskilled labourers working in the construction sector. The number of expatriates staying illegally in the country is believed to exceed 50,000.